15

More Than Just a Label

Technique #15: Design the Paper Management Structure First, and Then Create the Labels

Words on labels are just that: words. If your goal is to create a paper management system, your labels are going to play a bigger role than you may have previously considered. You need to think of your labels in terms of the filing structure or paper management system you are designing.

Design the System First, Then Label

While the act of making a label is quite simple, knowing what information to put on the label is the challenging part. Why? Because you’re doing more than merely placing your papers into folders and dropping them into a filing cabinet. You are creating a system to which you can add additional information and retrieve material when needed. Haphazardly putting labels on files without looking at the bigger picture will result in information that you will either forget you had or won’t be able to find when needed.

If you’re creating a system from scratch because you either (1) didn’t have one to begin with or (2) are fed up with your existing system, do yourself a favor: Put temporary labels on your files until you’re done. Making labels as you go or before you’ve designed the entire system will waste both time and products. It is far more efficient to sit down and make the labels at one time. I see this kind of wasted time and material frequently; people are so eager to get this task done that they can’t wait until the system is finalized to do the labeling. ...

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